Stranger in a strange land

Imagine you’re visiting a strange world. There are rules, codes of conduct, certain ways to behave. Only no-one tells you what they are, you just have to work them out. Only you’re not very good at working them out, and you hate getting things wrong. You’d much rather someone sat you down and went through the rules with you and explained them clearly so that you know exactly where you stand.

Only no-one else seems to need that, and everyone else seems to know what they should be doing and how to do it.  You’re left experiencing rejection and confusion when you break these rules you don’t understand, and you have no idea how to figure things out.

It might be that you’re at fault. It might be that you’re just not very good at picking up signs that everyone else sees.

Or it might be that when you were developing the ability to pick them up, when you were growing up, people behaved strangely around you, preventing you from learning those skills.

I read about how inconsistent feedback can cause neurotic responses. How sometimes getting positive feedback and sometimes negative, with no apparent causation or link, can cause the recipient to give up and withdraw, unable to figure out what action is appropriate and therefore not bothering to even try.

Life feels like one large game of Mornington Crescent, where everyone around you seems to know the rules except you. Can you pick it up? Can you play the game? Or will you retreat and sit on the sidelines watching enviously as the others play?

Or do you give up trying to play by everyone else’s rules and just start making them up for yourself?


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